When Bridge graduate Hawra moved from the U.S. to her country of ancestry, Lebanon, she chose to draw on her passion for teaching English to give back to youngsters in her new community. She shares how her job as a kindergarten teacher in the southern region of the country has been a rewarding and life-changing experience for her and for her learners.
Can you tell us about yourself, Hawra?
I’m an American–Lebanese currently living in the Middle East, in Lebanon. In 2010, my whole family decided to migrate to Lebanon from the U.S.A, specifically from California, where we are from, and come live in our country, Lebanon.
What were some of the things you had to adjust to when you relocated to Lebanon?
I think the lifestyle is competently fair to adjust to because, as you know, in every country in the Middle East or the world it is constantly evolving and becoming more of an animated and open life.
How did you get into teaching?
As a diligent English learner, I always wanted to give my utmost potential and passion for English teaching. I have been doing it since I was in high school by supporting my foreign cousins and non-native students with some simple tutoring and helping them with their English homework. The reaction from them after helping was indescribable. They loved the language and even more the way I used to help them understand it. I felt I was obliged to continue with this since it gave me so much joy when I felt the difference by sharing my knowledge.
“I have a gift of being an American native speaker and I will share that to the world and help them become some of the best English students.” This will always be my motto.
Can you tell us about your current teaching job?
I’ve been teaching in the City of Tyre, located in the south of Lebanon, for almost four years. I’m a kindergarten English teacher. My students are from five to six years old.
How is the ESL market and demand for English teachers in Lebanon?
It’s not completely reliable. Most schools prefer college degrees and boycott other certifications.
How is Lebanon as a location to work as an English teacher?
It’s great and meaningful. The school shows true respect and admiration for my teaching styles and native language, so it helps my motivation even more.
What do you like about teaching in Lebanon?
I like that I get to teach and share my talent – being a native speaker in the English language – with my keen, smart students.
Can you share a memorable experience you’ve had while teaching?
I remember when I helped my student feel more confident about himself and his intelligence. I encouraged him to keep progressing and he felt more motivated than ever to learn.
How has the COVID-19 virus crisis affected you as a teacher?
Personally, I felt distraught because as a teacher that prefers and enjoys more physical learning, I didn’t see and receive the same reaction and feeling of my students’ interaction through online learning.
I’m still in the process of adapting to online teaching, to be honest, but I’m doing my best to excel at it.
You took the Teaching English to Young Learners and Teenagers TEFL/TESOL certification courses. Why did you choose these courses?
I chose these courses because I can manage both levels and teach various levels gladly. Luckily, I had experienced teaching teens in the past and it was a smooth transition. I was an easy-going teacher with a cool character that teachers really enjoyed and I encouraged others to learn with me.
Browse online TEFL courses to get certified.
How have your TEFL certifications helped you professionally?
They helped me prove my gained knowledge and teaching skills.
How have you used the Bridge digital badges you earned from the courses you took?
I had the chance to share them on my resume and cover letter for job applications.
Do you have any advice for English teachers who want to work in Lebanon?
Working here is an amazingly great experience, especially when you see your young learners benefiting from you entirely and you are making a huge difference to this community. People are sweet and kind here. They support the teacher and show her immense gratitude for her endowed hard work – not necessarily with money – but they praise her by adding more shine to her reputation as an English teacher.